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Amarillo, Texas - Page 2

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Road Does Not End Sign in Amarillo, Texas

A Sign along 6th Street in Amarillo, Texas conveys that Route 66 "Does Not End," Kathy Weiser, November, 2005.This image available for photographic prints HERE!

 

 

 

Road Does Not End Sign, Amarillo, Texas

Well, the "road does not end," but obviously, the sign itself has a limited lifespan, Kathy Weiser, November, 2008. The sign is gone today.

This image available for photographic prints HERE!

 

 

Gas was discovered in 1918 and three years later oil was found and the black gold frenzy exploded across the Texas Panhandle as vast fortunes were made overnight.

In 1921, a long stretch of Sixth Street became the first paved roadway in Amarillo, a portion of which, Route 66 would later follow through the San Jacinto Heights neighborhood.  In the earliest days, the route entered Amarillo, on 8th Avenue (which later became Amarillo Boulevard,) turned south on Fillmore Street, west on 6th Avenue, and followed Bushland Avenue leaving the city. Later, as the city expanded, the route was moved entirely to Amarillo Boulevard, bypassing downtown and traveling northwest of much of the city. Numerous service facilities popped up, causing Amarillo Boulevard to often be referred to as "Motel Row.”  

The 1930s brought drought and black dust bowls to Amarillo, but the decade also saw the rise of tourist stops, numerous motels, and restaurants as Americans began to feverishly travel Route 66.

Today, Amarillo is called home to more than 175,000 people where gas, petroleum, agriculture, and cattle are the principal sources of income.

 

The Amarillo area is now a major destination for Old West and Route 66 enthusiasts from all over the globe. The lure of the Old West also draws thousands every year to attractions like the internationally-famous outdoor musical "Texas" and Cowboy Morning Breakfast, both held at Palo Duro Canyon.

 

For Mother Road travelers, there are two alignments through the city, both of which begin at east Amarillo Boulevard (US-60/BL-44), which continues to sport several relics of more prosperous times in this now "seedy" looking neighborhood. On the east end of Amarillo Boulevard, look for the old Triangle Motel at 7954 East Amarillo Boulevard on the south side of the road. Currently, there are plans to restore this old place, but they have a ways to go. Across the street, barely recognizable, is an old Whiting Brothers Station. On down the boulevard, look for the vintage sign of the Eastridge Bowling Alley on the north side, the Cattleman's Club and Cafe, which has been doing business for decades, and the Cowboy Motel next door at 3619 E Amarillo Blvd. Continuing on Amarillo Boulevard, more signs of the vintage Mother Road can be seen, though gradually declining as you move westward.

 

 

 

The original alignment can be accessed by turning south from Amarillo Boulevard onto Pierce Street (US-87), continuing south to 6th Street and turning west. Along this vintage route are a number of old services that continue to stand, though most not in their original form. That being said, the area has made a come-back with numerous old buildings refurbished into antique shops, cafes and boutiques. Today, this stretch of the old pavement has been designated on the National Register of Historic Places and has been fashionably restored to an antique district, full of collectibles, boutiques and street-side cafes. A must see along this route is the The Nat Dine and Dance Palace which once catered to the Big Band Era and later, to the rock and rollers of the 1950's. Now a book store, it is said to be haunted! Read all about The Nat and its ghost by clicking HERE. Also look for the Golden Light Bar and Grill along the route and the Broncho Lodge at Bell Street.

 

While not technically on Route 66 today, the original Big Texan Steak Ranch first stood on Route 66 along East Amarillo Boulevard when the steakhouse was built in 1960. It all began in 1959, when Bob Lee went seeking a large steak in the midst of "cow country.” To his surprise, Amarillo sported not a single cowboy steak house, which Lee soon began to rectify.

 

A year later, The Big Texan Steak Ranch opened, claiming to serve the largest steak in Texas. But simply serving the largest steak wasn’t enough, Lee soon began promoting a Free 72 ounce Steak Dinner if customers could eat the whole thing in less than an hour. It wasn’t long before the promotion gained national attention and travelers thinking of Amarillo, immediately associated it with the Texan Steak Ranch, making the restaurant a "must stop” for travelers of the Mother Road.

 

When I-40 barreled through Amarillo, bypassing Route 66, Lee moved the restaurant nearer the traffic, but the famous steakhouse retained its reputation as a Mother Road landmark. In addition to its more than 40 year old steak promotion and seating for 450 in its restaurant, the Big Texan also sports a motel, Old West entertainment, a gift shop, and even a Horse Hotel, all decorated to resemble an Old West town. The Lee family continues to operate the complex that is not only lots of fun, but also provides a delicious steak.

 

In the meantime, keep your eyes open for a series of mock road signs scattered throughout the city that are collectively referred to as the Dynamite Museum. These signs portray odd bits of philosophy, pictures, and sometimes --  just nonsense. Developed by the eccentric millionaire, Stanley Marsh, you can see lots of pictures of these signs by visiting our Cadillac Ranch and Other Panhandle Oddities page. The article describes the many eccentricities of Stanley Marsh including the Cadillac Ranch and  more.

 

The Big Texan Steak Ranch Sign, Amarillo, Texas

The Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo is a long known  Route 66 icon. November, 2005 Kathy Weiser.

This image available for photographic prints HERE!

 

Cadillac Ranch on Route 66 just west of Amarillo, Texas.Also scattered throughout the city are numerous "Horses on Parade," colorful full size fiberglass horses, painted by local artists, decorate lawns, sidewalks, and building entryways.

Keep right on travelin' down the Mother Road to the Cadillac Ranch, Vega and Adrian, Texas.

 

To stay on the original Mother Road, Amarillo Boulevard will begin to curve back to I-40 when you run into an intersection that is Indian Hills Road (also old Route 66.) Follow this road west toward the old town of Bushland where the road will end. Rejoining I-40, you can continue on the north frontage Road to Vega.

 

 

 

© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated March, 2015.

 

 

 

 

Amarillo Slideshow:

 

 

All images available for photographic prints HERE!

 

 

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